Archive for rumors


Blackberry is rumored to be cutting 2,000 at its Waterloo headquarters. The entire Developer Relations team (including Marty Mallick) will be let go, and parts of engineering.

One of the main downsides of the elimination of the Developer Relations Team will be the noticeable drop in establishing new relationships with app studios to have them make apps for Blackberry World. Existing developers will also experience decreased support levels.  The end result of this move will dramatically reduce the quality of new apps being made available for anyone who has a Blackberry 10 phone. It will also hinder the development of Native Apps that Blackberry developers for their own platform and is perhaps an indication the company is embracing Android to a large degree.

The Blackberry Developers Team deserves to be fired. In the last six months they have not signed any big apps to be listed in their store. The team is out of touch on the most popular new apps being developed and are fully compatible with Blackberry. Alec Saunders was one of the more vocal members of this team, but since he changed position to be the VP of QNX, things have been very quiet.

New Blackberry CEO John Chen will be leading a quarterly investors call on June 19th. The company has been in “quiet” mode the last few weeks, encouraging employees to not publicly divulge any information. Former employees are not speaking out either, due to the NDA associated with their severance package. If the sacking of the staff does occur, it will likely happen after the investors call.

Good e-Reader is in a position to speak of the lack of quality in the new apps being added to Blackberry World because we maintain our own Blackberry 10 and Blackberry Playbook App Store. We spend countless hours every single day monitoring all of the most compelling new apps and testing them on a wide array of  BB devices. This is why you can find Instagram, Snapchat, FIFA, LINE, Netflix, Adobe Photoshop on our app store and not Blackberry.  Blackberry also has a super complicated system for developers to port their apps over to the BAR format. You have to install a bunch of SDK files, Java and a ton of other small aspects. This provided a barrier for your average developer. Do you know what we did? We made a ridiculously easy (and free) APK to BAR convertor that over 144,000 people use every single day.

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Amazon normally refreshes their entire product line every single year in September. The current generation HD and HDX tablets are getting a bit long in the tooth, but are still considered very viable tablets. Currently Amazon is in the hardware stage where they are deciding what processors they are going to employ in the 2014 edition of the Kindle family. We now have confirmation from many sources that Amazon is going with the Mediatek processor for their entry model Kindle Fire HD.

Amazon has employed a very interesting strategy in their last two generations of Android driven tablets. They normally release an HD version of their 7 and 8.9 models with higher specs and an entry level edition that they can appeal to people who don’t want to spend a lot. The current models Amazon sells is the Amazon Kindle HDX 7, Kindle HDX 8.9 and the entry level Kindle Fire HD. The HDX product line is currently using the Snapdragon processors, while the Kindle Fire HD uses a dual-core Texas Instructions version. In order to market a budget tablet and keep the cost down to around $129 it is important to use cost efficient components.

Amazon will be selecting China based MediaTek to power their entry level Kindle HD 7 refresh later in the year. The company successfully convinced Amazon that they are ready for prime time and used the new deal they signed with Google, for for Nexus tablet revamp as leverage. No one seems to know what the new processor will be, but there are rumors that it will be the new MT8135 quad-core that went into production late last year.

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Kobo and Sony are very strange bedfellows, but they have slowly begun to do more business with each other in the last four months. The Sony Reader Store officially closed and all purchased eBooks are being sent to Kobo. All existing e-Readers issued by Sony will be getting a firmware update so people can buy content directly from the Kobo Store. A leaked document reports that Kobo and Sony are working on a co-branded e-reader that uses e Ink Mobius technology.

e Ink Mobius has tremendous benefits for e-readers because of its lightweight nature and super high resolution. Sony and E Ink actually collaborated on developing this new e-Paper and the only commercial release thus far is the 13.3 Sony Digital Paper. The reason why no other company has released a product using this tech is because Sony has an exclusivity agreement with E Ink. Other companies are simply not allowed to use it until the initial contract expires.

The leaked document we saw shows a co-branded e-reader that uses e Ink Mobius cut to a six inch display. E Ink had verified with Good e-Reader at SID Display week that Mobius can be cut to any size that the customer wanted. The design of the e-reader is much akin to the Sony PRS-T3 with the physical page turn keys and other buttons. One of the hardware features that is new is that the screen is flush with the bezel, much akin to the Kobo Aura. Although the document did not state it, I have a feeling this device will have both Carta and Regal. E Ink Carta delivers a dramatic 50% increase in contrast over earlier generations of e-Paper, giving e-Readers a contrast ratio close to that of a paperback book. The crisp text and detailed graphics are also highly readable in direct sunlight. Carta’s 16 levels of grey produce the sharpest rendering of images with smooth tones and rich detail.

The new e-reader will be made by Sony, in a partnership with Kobo and will be marketed worldwide. The firmware and operating system will be developed and maintained by Sony, allowing them to tie in their own Reader Store in the UK, Europe and Australia. In North America and the greater worldwide audience Sony will be using the Kobo bookstore to deliver content to customers.

Beyond this, the document did not really outline how the operating system will work and if the PDF rendering engine will be made by Sony or Kobo. Sony uses the Android operating system, which Kobo e-readers have been traditionally Linux based. The core belief is that this will be a Sony thing, with a small assist from Kobo. Will this be called the Sony PRS-T4 or under a new name? Will it have the consistent September release date as prior Sony models?

This might be a good play for Sony. They could make some solid margins on selling the hardware through other retailers, much like they are doing with the Digital Paper. When the T1, T2, and T3 e-readers get the Kobo store built into them, Kobo will be paying Sony a commission for each book sold. This cuts down the costs of maintaining a separate store in North America and advertising it to publishers. Also, no other Sony e-reader in recent memory has created the type of buzz that their 13.3 model has garnered. This has prompted Sony to make a six inch consumer model that will read the ePub format, instead of PDF exclusively.

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ICARUS3D e-reader

The tech industry was rife with Aprils Fools Jokes, and it is hard to take seriously any major announcement that transpires on April 1st. Icarus, a Netherlands e-Reader company quietly announced a 3D e-Reader on their website and the entry is still available right on their homepage. Apparently, they have developed a 3D e-Reader with passive eyewear that will give you a more immersive experience.

The Icarus 3D boasts a OE3D screen with HD resolution display with 1024×768 pixels and integrated front light. The 3D effect of the screen can be adjusted by a slider button, and can also be completely turned off. The 3D screen means you are literally pulled into the book, for an unmatched reading experience.

The Reader is apparently Adobe certified, so you can buy eBooks from major retailers and load them on the device. You can also turn pages with the touchscreen or the physical buttons. Basically, the Icarus 3D is a repackaged Illumina HD, with a 3D interface.

How exactly is the overall e-reading experience enhanced with 3D glasses? Apparently we won’t have long to wait with the company shipping it off April 8th and the cost is € 149.95.

Update: Icarus confirmed it was nothing but a hoax.

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Google has been up to some interesting changes in its hardware division. While its decision to sell off the Motorola smartphone segment to Lenovo tops the list, there also are a few rumors that are worth paying attention to. First is the rumor that Google is contemplating killing off the Nexus brand as a whole, to be replaced by Google Play Edition devices.

However, while that isn’t expected (if at all it happens) before 2015, there are also some who believe Google might launch an 8 inch Nexus branded tablet. That idea stems from a recent revelation by Taiwan based upstream supply chain makers who claim Google is likely to launch the 8 inch Nexus by late April. Also, as reported in Digitimes, there will be 2 million devices to start off with.

While that is yet to be confirmed officially, what can’t be denied is that it makes a lot of sense to have an 8 inch in your tablet portfolio. The 7 inch tablet segment has come under increased competition from the smartphone segment that has been steadily growing in size, so much that we even have a 6.4 inch device in the form of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra that offers calling capabilities; HP has 6 and 7 inch Voice Tablets that allow for voice calling, too. This has made manufacturers of 7 inch tablets to take refuge in 8 inch sized devices. This may have also led to a less than stellar run at the market for the Nexus 7 2013, so the Nexus 8 is believed to be a safe bet in such a scenario.

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Samsung is reported to have initiated mass production of 8 and 10.5 inch AMOLED displays which have led analysts to believe the South Korean company might be prepping AMOLED display based tablet devices for a launch sometime in the near future. Further, with an event as big as the MWC, it would perhaps be safe to conclude we might be treated with working samples of the same during the event in February.

Samsung can be associated with AMOLED displays for long though that applies to smartphone devices only. Samsung also had a Galaxy Tab version, one with a 7.7 inch AMOLED display that did enthrall users with its brilliant display though unfortunately, it was among the Galaxy Tab versions that got banned as a fallout of the infamous court battle with Apple. However, there were no precedents ever since which was largely due to several technical difficulties in producing bigger AMOLED displays in sizeable numbers in a cost effective manner.

However, that seems to have been taken care of effectively now that rumors of 8 and 10 inch sized tablets with AMOLED displays have begun to take center stage as we approach the MWC. The prestigious event unfolds in Spain from 24 – 27 February.

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The next tablet segment that has caught on the fancy of tablet makers is obviously those that offer 12+ inch of screen real estate. These are aimed at the enterprise users among others and Apple has been rumored for quite some time now to be fielding a contender in this emerging segment; more so after Samsung has already made the initial move here with the launch of the ‘Pro’ versions of its Galaxy Tab models.

However, as per a Digitimes report, the iPad Pro that will offer a 12.9 inch display is not expected to be ready for a market induction before Q3, 2014. Surely that would be quite late if Apple is indeed in a hurry to match Samsung’s move to launch a big screen tablet though the above timeline tallies well with the usual schedule during which Apple refreshes its product line up, which is during fall of every year. The complete lack of any parts leak or other evidence from parts manufacturers further bolsters our assumption of the intended launch period of the iPad Pro during Q3 this year. Research analysts DisplaySearch though is claiming that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will come with a Retina display having a resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels, which translates to a pixel density of 265 ppi.

Meanwhile, there have also been reports of Apple considering a hybrid approach for the iPad Pro, one that will come with a detachable keypad unit. The keypad might even come with a separate battery unit to keep the huge display going for respectable amount of run times that successive generations of iPad has always been known for. Meanwhile, Digitimes is also claiming that Apple is into developing new iPad models in the 7.9 and 9.7 inch dimensions which will replace the current lineup.

However, while this can’t be ruled out, it’s the iPad pro models that no doubt will be evoking greater excitement. Let’s see how things pan out in the next couple of months.

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Samsung has been experimenting with curved displays for quite some time, although all of its efforts have culminated in just one product so far, the Galaxy Round, which is bent longitudinally along the central spine. That is going to change soon though, what with rumors (courtesy of MovePlayers) claiming Samsung is prepping a tablet version of it as well. Likely to be named Galaxy Tab Round, the tablet will incorporate the same curved build except that it will be felt across 7 or 8 inches of curved display.

As for the benefits of having a curved display on smartphones and tablet devices, while many debate such a design, one obvious benefit of it is that the display has lesser chances of getting damaged since it is never exposed in its entirety, even when placed face down. The Galaxy Round does not exhibit the same levels of flexibility as the LG G Flex, which actually stretches and bends. However, a curved tablet will take up more space when needed to be stored in a bag than its conventional flat screen counterpart. Interestingly, curved 4K 3D TVs have been a major draw at CES 2014.

Other details such as expected specifications, price, or a probable launch schedule are not yet available.

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In a nod to the understanding that consumers who read on mobile devices are probably on a time budget, the newly launched full-length issues of Vanity Fair have a new offer: reading times. Originally initiated by Liberty magazine in the 1920s, the reading time feature sorts articles for the reader by how long the article should take, which is perfect for the morning commute or for catching up on an article while waiting at a meeting or appointment.

The new feature is only one part of what’s in store for Vanity Fair readers who utilize the new iPhone version of the magazine, created with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite. In addition to the reading times listed in the table of contents–categorized as Short, Medium, Long, and Everything Else–the new version is optimized from the publisher’s print schematics specifically for the iPhone screen.

As this is the second title from Conde Nast to be optimized for iPhone (The New Yorker launched first), additional new features were incorporated by the publisher’s design team. Those features include “videos, photo slide shows, interactive infographics, and archival articles; sharing capability via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail; links to Web content on; and navigation tools, including the ‘scrubber.'”

Individual issues can be purchased through the free app for $4.99, and a one-year subscription is $19.99. Current subscribers to the magazine through either print or iPad will receive the iPhone version at no extra charge.

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The Reading Rainbow television show was broadcast for almost two decades and it taught young children the value of reading. When the show was cancelled a few years ago, Levar Burton and producer Mark Wolfe sat down and decided what to do next. 18 months later they debuted the Reading Rainbow iOS app and secured partnerships with Natgeo and a number of other media properties. Today, the Amazon App Store Twitter account posted a picture of Levar visiting Amazon headquarters. This leads me to believe that for the first time the Reading Rainbow will launch an Android App designed for the Kindle Fire.

The Reading Rainbow app features a ton of original content and appeals mainly to kids. There are some customizable features such as your “Backpack” that contains all of the books you are currently reading. Books are attained when you visit different “Islands” that are themed. Each island has original video content that is hosted by Levar and is made specifically for the iPad app. “We ran the show for over two decades and had lots of content in the library. We made a decision to film 100% original content exclusively for the app and will continue to develop more in the coming months,” Levar told Good e-Reader in an exclusive interview.

The Kindle line of tablets is drawing a ton of public attention with Kindle Freetime and their various parental controls. Parents can establish how long each day they can read, play games, watch video and tweak their limits on the fly. Last week, Amazon unveiled Amazon Coins, which acts as their virtual currency to buy in-app content and also buy new apps. Likely, the Reading Rainbow will have Coins integrated into the app, to buy access to new islands.


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nook windows 8

There has been a massive leak of internal documents today from Barnes and Noble that claim Microsoft has made a one billion dollar offer to buy the entire Nook brand. This includes all the ebooks, tablets, and e-readers that the company currently offers.

Barnes and Noble has sold over 10 million Nook devices since first launching in 2009. Over 7 million people are actively using the eBook Store, downloading apps, or purchasing television and movies. It is no secret that Barnes and Noble is losing money with losses of $262 million for the fiscal 2012 year. B&N is also projected to lose an additional $360 million in 2013, so things look dire.

The mounting losses have spurned the vultures to encircle the embattled brand, with Pearson and Microsoft buying equity stakes in the Nook Media venture. This investment basically spun the digital division away from the brick and mortar stores. Microsoft kicked in $300 million at the time and gave B&N an advance of $190 million to make Nook branded apps for the Windows 8 OS.

Some of the documents also point to Barnes and Noble suspending all Android tablets in 2014 and instead licensing out its content platform to eligible buyers. This would be basically be a white label solution for conglomerates like HTC, Samsung, Acer, and others. The intention is for them to operate their own ebook stores that would tap into the Nook ecosystem to facilitate content delivery. Going this route would cut down on the hardware losses, which due to competition from Amazon, Kobo, Samsung, and Google makes sense. Its very hard for companies in today’s climate to make ANY money from hardware and instead have to rely on digital sales.

Microsoft owning a large e-reader, tablet, and ebook store could really help grow its Windows 8 brand. It would stimulate sales for its line of smartphones and tablets using the OS. It could integrate the entire Nook ecosystem to be bundled into the next build of Windows RT and Windows 8.

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Sony is developing a followup to the PRS-T2 e-Reader and it is poised to be submitted to the FCC within the next month. The company normally announces new devices in July and releases them in October. The big rumor right now is the deviation from the standard release cycle and getting a new product to market really soon. Sony normally discounts the current generation before it releases the new model.

The Sony PRS-T2 e-Reader is being discounted in the UK, with lighted case and AC charger for 139 euros. It is also being sold with a $20 discount at Best Buy and Future Shop in Canada. It is heavily discounted basically at most stores in the US, Canada, and UK.

Sony has recently revised its online ebook store and opened up a new book of the month club. It has ditched Google Books as an official partner and is doing great business with Overdrive. Now that Google Reader is being discontinued, the Evernote integration is a really big selling point. A new generation Sony e-Readers is due to be announced soon and it is rumored to use the same type of frontlight technology that the Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Glo use.

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We already know Samsung is reported to launch the Galaxy Tab 3 at the IFA event in September, though new input from SamMobile further whets our appetite with reports of there being a high end tablet in the making as well. The new tablet, dubbed Galaxy Tab 3 Plus, is likely to sport a 10.1 inch display, though it could even be as big as 11.6 inches. However, the screen dimension apart, the real treat could the the display, as unconfirmed but reliable sources point out the new tablet could feature a High Definition Super AMOLED display. The same sources also state the tablet will be built around the 5th generation octa core Exynos chip, which is likely to power it with enough horsepower to be pitted against the likes of the Apple iPad. The latter is also slated to launch its 5th gen iPad during June or thereabouts.

The best tablet Samsung now offers in the 10 inch category is the Nexus 10, which blows away the competition with its performance and range topping display. However, only the the Galaxy Tab 7.7 comes with an AMOLED display, which has already impressed with its deep black and colors that are rich and vivid.

Watch this space for more updates as it becomes available.

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